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US H-1B visa reaches 65,000 limit for 2020 in first season after new rules

Indians have historically accounted for more than 70% of the total of 85,000 H-1B visas the US grants every year against applications by American employers for speciality occupations.

world Updated: Apr 06, 2019 22:17 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Washington
H-1B visa,world news,United States of America
Image for representation purpose.(File photo)

The United States on Friday announced it had received enough petitions for H-1B visas for the congressionally mandated annual cap of 65,000 for 2020, the first under new rules that favour foreigners with advanced degrees from US colleges and might disadvantage Indians with Indian degrees.

US citizenship and immigration services, which runs the visa programme, said in a statement it has “received a sufficient number of petitions projected as needed to reach the congressionally-mandated 65,000 H-1B visa regular cap for fiscal year 2020”. And that it will next determine “if we have received a sufficient number of petitions to meet the 20,000 H-1B visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, known as the master’s cap”.

Indians have historically accounted for more than 70% of the total of 85,000 H-1B visas the US grants every year against applications by American employers for speciality occupations. Some of them were those employed by Indian companies with US operations such as TCS and Infosys, but most were hired by American companies such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft.

The H-1B programme has come under intense scrutiny from the Trump administration which believes, agreeing with long-time critics, these visas have been used to hire foreigners at the cost of Americans, to displace local workers. And in line with President Donald Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” policy, rules have been introduced and changed to make it harder to qualify, costlier and less welcoming.

The new rule favoring foreigners with US degrees, which was announced in January, is expected to boost their numbers by an estimated 16%, or 5,340 workers. “US employers seeking to employ foreign workers with a US master’s or higher degree will have a greater chance of selection in the H-1B lottery in years of excess demand for new H-1B visas,” USCIS head Lee Francis Cissna had then said.

Other changes include increased scrutiny of applications as a result the number of requests for more information has gone up, increasing the paperwork and attorney fees, employers and industry watchers have said. And to make it less attractive for foreigners hoping to stay on, the administration has decided to end work authorization, for instances, for spouses of H-1B visa-holders cleared for Green Card (permanent residency).

First Published: Apr 06, 2019 10:40 IST